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Minnesota Beers According To A Non-Minnesota Man

J. R. Shirt, July 15, 2014 -   

In light of this year's MLB All-Star Game being played at Target Field in beautiful Minnesota, it seems that this is as good a time as any to share my experiences and thoughts on the select group of Minnesota beers I've had the pleasure of drinking. It could be debated that information regarding Minnesota beer would be best coming from an actual Minnesotan, a side of the argument that would most likely win, especially if taking place in Minnesota, what with home field advantage and all.

However, perspective is always important, especially in the subjective undertaking of beer ratings. Perhaps an argument could be made that my Non-Minnesotan perspective might be one worth sharing, as there is most likely a reasonably sized contingent of Non-Minnesotans currently converging on Minneapolis. Also, awhile back Matt Murphy presented some interesting data on these Beergraphs' pages that showed that the In-State ratings for Minnesota check-ins on Untappd were just slightly lower than the Out-Of-State ratings. And while the difference was miniscule, just a difference -0.04, and probably not significant enough to support any real argument, its misuse pseudo-supports my claim that my perspective is worthwhile.

Before I get into the actual beer and the wonderful way in which it was obtained, I would like to, for the purposes of full disclosure, reveal that until some brief research prior to writing this article, I thought people from Minnesota were called “Minnesotians”, applying the same suffix used to describe people from Mars, specifically Martians, and pronounced in a similar way: Min-neh-soh-shuns.

My extremely surface level Internet research revealed no such nickname. However, compared to the nicknames I did come across – Mud Ducks, Foolios, and Minnesotans – I think an argument could be made that Minnesotians is a vastly superior nickname. I am curious where actual Minnesotians stand on this topic, but I also am aware that I have already presented several arguments and debates in this short article, probably too many, so I will put this particular one at the bottom of the argument totem pole and just move on, but it is certainly something to think about.

It is also possible that I am terrible at Internet searches and “Minnesotians” is, in fact, a long standing and viable nickname for those in that great state. For the record though, the spell check feature of my word processing software does not recognize it. Just some food for thought, do what you want with it.

You may be wondering how a non-Minnesotan, or non-Minnesotian, was able to obtain beers that are generally not available in my non-Minnesotian locale, specifically Pennsylvania. Well, earlier this year, I wagered, with Minnesota Twins super-fan/podcaster and BeerGraphs contributor Nicholas Campion, that on May 1st the success of the New York Mets would be greater than the success of the Minnesota Twins, as measured by win percentage. And while the contest was closer than I thought, as the Twins came out of the gate hotter than I anticipated, I was able to win said wager with the help of several rain cancellations toward the end of April.

Ever the gracious loser, Nick delivered a package of Minnesota beer so far beyond my expectations both in quantity and quality, that I am struggling to construct a regional beer package with equal returns. The table below breaks down the beers in order of their ranking in the state of Minnesota from our Leaderboards and my overall rating (out of 5 stars) for each beer

 

Brewery

Style

Rank (in Minnesota)

Style+

BAR

My overall rating

Abrasive Ale

Surly

Imperial/Double IPA

1

112

12.38

5.0

Furious

Surly

American IPA

2

112

9.8

4.75

Day Tripper

Indeed Brewing

American Pale Ale

11

108

5.58

3.75

OverRated

Surly

American IPA

13

105

5.1

4.25

Black Ale

Bent Paddle

Dark Ale

25

111

4.42

4.25

Hop Dish

Lift Bridge

American IPA

27

104

4.39

3.25

War and Peace

Fulton

Russian Imp. Stout

36

104

4.07

4.5

Bender

Surly

American Brown Ale

54

105

3.41

4.25

Foundation Stout

Badger Hill

American Stout

261

94

0.06

3.5

 

The one beer pictured above but not listed in the table is BLAKKR, the Imperial/Black Ale collaboration between Surly, Three Floyds, and Real Ale, which I really enjoyed and gave it an overall score of 4.5 out of 5. The feel of it was really amazing – creamy and full bodied with a great smooth but bitter, citrus finish. Combine all that with great roasted malt aroma and flavors and you have one delicious beer.

Of the non-Surly beers, the Black Ale and the War Peace were the biggest surprises for me. So much delicious coffee in the War and Peace and just great roasted aroma and flavors in the Black Ale that I wish I had more of both of them.

The Day Tripper, while the 3rd best beer in the package according to our Leaderboards, had hop flavors that I had trouble enjoying – some musty grass, some grapefruit, some tropical notes, and some resinous pine that overall just blended into something a bit woody and dry for me. But it did drink easy as the bitterness faded quickly and the finish had some creaminess to it.

The Hop Dish was pretty mild in terms of hop flavors, but it did have a some bubble gum flavors, some citrus, some pine, and some earthiness, but all were pretty subtle and subdued, allowing more of a caramel sweetness to take charge. Overall, it was a pretty subdued easy drinker, light bodied, with some mild but nice hop flavors.

Foundation Stout had a nice combo of sweet, slick, creamy, and dry, which made for a great feel and balanced flavors. Nothing spectacular, but nothing to stop you from having another.

The Surly Beers were all delicious. OverRated, which is available at a couple spots in in Target Field according to Nick, was a dry, bitter, citrus, west coast hop bomb that I enjoyed very much. Bender was spot on to the description on the can, pictured below, and one of the best brown ales I've had.

 

 

I drank the Abrasive Ale the same day the package arrived and I was not disappointed. It had huge bright citrus flavors, hints of pine, floral notes, with the unique taste of a paler malt backbone. Along with that came a lighter body that somehow still delivered huge hop flavors. It was delicious, it was unlike other beers I've had before, and as the 13th beer overall on our Leaderboards, it 100% lived up to the hype.

Before I get into my thoughts of Surly's Furious, I'd like to get some feedback on some beer candidates from the Pennsylvania region to send out to Nick to return the favor. So far, my potential list includes some Troegs Nugget Nectar, Victory's DirtWolf, maybe a Mad Elf, and a thing or two from Neshaminy Creek – a brewery I'm not too familiar with yet but whose brewer, Jeremy Myers, won Brewer of the Year in this year's Philly Beer Scene awards. Perhaps, now that Pizza Boy Brewing is going to start bottling, I'll try and work that into the mix. Bottom line, I'm looking for suggestions. Keep in mind, in order to send fresh Nugget Nectar, I'll be putting this together around January or February.

Furious, Surly Brewing Company (9.8 BAR, 112 Style+)

Appearance = 4.25/5

Amber color, nice layer of off-white head with good retention and lacing.

Smell = 4.25/5

Pretty much all pine and grapefruit. Which is pretty wonderful.

Taste = 5/5

Crazy bitter pine, citrus, grapefruit, and a hint of grass. Reminds me a bit of the dank hop flavors of Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, but with more of a punch. The caramel malt flavors have similarities there as well, but not quite as much.

Feel = 5/5

Sharply bitter on the tongue with a crisp, medium body and smooth carbonation – a perfect match for the flavors.

Overall = 4.75/5

Very, very good. Reminded me of a more crisp, more bitter, more citrus, less malty Celebration Ale. Which, to be clear, makes for one hell of a beer.

J. R. Shirt is a man trying to write through Armageddon levels of road construction outside his home office window. Follow his slow descent on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt.

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